An extremely high tide in Charleston Harbor in November reached over 8.5 feet, making it the 10th highest tide ever. Homes and businesses were flooded. The roads were closed. Again, the damage took a toll on residents, business owners and wildlife habitats, but it also took another chunk out of local government budgets to repair and rebuild infrastructure.
This scenario plays out more often as the effects of changing weather and climate hit our state. It is time to act to protect our people and our economy.
We need a solid offense and defense to meet this challenge.
When it comes to defence, we need to be mindful of how and where we expand to meet regional growth, ensuring that we keep our wetlands and floodplains – Mother Nature’s inherent flood protection – intact. We also need to help make our flood-prone communities more resilient.
On offense, we need to limit the pollution we put into the air and water of South Carolina. Reducing harmful emissions from power plants and gasoline-powered vehicles will make a big difference.
We know the Lowcountry and South Carolina are beautiful. No wonder people move here. But all of this growth highlights the need for careful planning. Some of the first victims of this growth are wetlands, which are our first line of defense when waters rise. During heavy rains, wetlands serve as a holding ground for excess water until the floods recede. When we build on wetlands, we cripple natural flood protection.
We also cannot continue to allow new development or redevelopment in the floodplains. This perpetuates a dangerous cycle for South Carolinians that results in the same sites flooding storm after storm.
The creation and funding of the State’s Office of Resilience was a good first step and will inspire and equip communities to be resilient as they rebuild after the storms. Governor Henry McMaster’s budget proposal includes $300 million for the Office of Resilience – an even bigger step.
Resources such as these and other tools will be needed to meet the challenges of climate resilience, including the planting of additional tree cover – which will be facilitated by the federal REPLANT law passed this year. last in Washington.
Playing offense and defense on the climate front is a tall order, but there are tools to help South Carolina. The federal government provides funds to the state to address the challenges facing Charleston and the Lowcountry. We can use these resources to give our state and local leaders tools to help with these defensive and offensive measures. Let’s make sure we don’t waste or ignore these opportunities.
I will continue to call on our state legislators in Colombia to support programs and initiatives that help us rebuild in a way that builds our flood resilience and establishes clean energy infrastructure.
If we hope to protect our state for years to come and for future generations, we will need state legislators and local governments to leverage these funds to ensure that we are devoting the right resources to the right projects in the right timeframes. .
With a new legislative session and a new budget debate starting in Colombia, it is time to act.
Mike Sottile is a former state representative and former mayor of the Isle of Palms.